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Can patrol officers be paid $50K?
A proposal to alter the way in which Pearsall police officers are paid has met resistance and failed in a council vote on August 28.
The item on the council’s agenda addressed eliminating police officer stipends and increasing street patrol officer salaries to $50,000.
The move would have all police officers capped at $50,000 with no stipends.
In his proposal, Police Chief Peter Salinas sought an increase in pay for street-level officers, sergeants and corporals, but noted that the three higher-ranked officers – lieutenant, captain and chief – would not receive a raise.
The chief’s proposal totaled $62,000 and had been approved by councilors.
According to the police chief, stipends are given for various certifications such as canine handler, bilingual speaker, night officers, length of service and for various certificates earned towards specialized duty or in training.
“If you want to take everyone up to fifty thousand dollars, that is a ninety-six thousand dollar increase to the budget,” Finance Director Santos Alarcon said.
A motion was made by Councilor Roland Segovia to keep the stipends and have patrol officers’ starting pay at $48,000 a year. The motion garnered only the support of Councilor Richard Gandara and failed.
The police salary proposal was made during the same Aug. 28 meeting at which councilors debated pay rates or bonuses for city employees.
Councilors Segovia and Gandara and Abel Nieto placed three items on the agenda for the meeting, the first being a request for a one-time $1,500 payment for all employees.
“There are budget items we could not come into a consensus with, so I had to put them on the agenda,” Segovia said.
Following discussions with city staff, councilors made a unanimous decision not to grant the bonus.
Councilors exchanged barbs before approving, in a split vote, the decision to move starting pay for any new employee hired for a job with the city of Pearsall to $15 an hour. The move includes moving all current employees to the same pay.
“I put this on the agenda because it goes back to the conversation at the beginning of the budget,” Segovia said.
Councilor Davina Rodriguez expressed strong opposition to the proposal, citing a number of employees who have been working for the city for upwards of ten years and are only making $16 an hour.
“I would be upset,” Rodriguez said. “I am all about raising it, but we need a system in place.”
Segovia garnered the support of Councilors Gandara, Nieto and Sonia Hernandez; Councilors Rodriguez, Brenda Trevino and Julian Hernandez voted against the motion.
The move has left a $230,000 deficit in the budget for the next fiscal year.